(Editor's Note: This news release is provided to show the national attack on atrazine use that will be fully believed by many readers of the various publications in which it will appear, especially those not familiar with agriculture or the science behind the approved use of any pesticide. AgProfessional is reprinting it with comments from Syngenta.)

ST. LOUIS, April 21 - For Steve Tillery of the law firm of Korein Tillery, the threat of the herbicide atrazine to our environment and the health of every citizen of America is a cause he's ready to take on.



"This issue is much bigger than a case in a court of law," Tillery said. "This issue belongs in the court of Public Opinion; the people deserve and have a right to demand clean and uncontaminated water. Any compromise to that right is unacceptable."



Tillery is referring to a complaint filed by his firm in August of 2004 against six manufacturers of Atrazine on behalf of Holiday Shores Sanitary District which is a community located west of Edwardsville, Illinois. The two basic principals of the complaint are: 1) Atrazine is harmful to humans as consumed through dietary water , and 2) Atrazine is harmful to humans as consumed through dietary water at a level of less than three parts per billion (it is important to note that the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) goals for atrazine has been set at 3 parts per billion (ppb) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency who believes that this level of protection does not cause health risks to public water systems). The defendants in each of the six actions sought to dismiss the case in part because Plaintiffs sought damages for water contamination falling below EPA contamination guidelines, according to Tillery. However, on July 5, 2008 in what he calls a landmark decision, the Illinois Circuit Court ruled that Plaintiffs could proceed with their claims and denied defendant's motions to dismiss. The cases are currently pending in the Third Judicial Circuit of Illinois.



"We're calling on the manufacturers of atrazine to protect the public and clean-up their mess," Tillery said.



Tillery points to Syngenta, a company based in Basel, Switzerland who is the largest manufacturer of atrazine (over 90%) in the world. Available data shows that Syngenta's reported revenue from herbicides, including atrazine, exceeds $1.6 billion annually. What's disturbing, Tillery said, is the American taxpayers in our communities are having to pay in excess of $400 million annually to clean-up contaminated water systems caused by atrazine according to the Worldwatch Institute.



"We have a situation where you have a foreign company who brings their product into this country, makes huge profits, contaminates our water systems, and then leaves us with the responsibility of cleaning-up their mess. That's not right," Tillery said. "Our Maximum Contaminant Level goal for atrazine in this country should be set at 0."



Although banned in the European Union in 2004 because of its persistent groundwater contamination, claims Tillery, atrazine is one of the most widely used herbicides in the United States with 76 million pounds of it applied each year - predominantly in the Midwest. Recent data illustrates that over 900 water systems throughout the Midwest are contaminated with atrazine.



(Syngenta has a completely different point of view that it notes is backed by sound science. The company has been out front in sharing information about the litigation and providing information about atrazine. Syngenta even established a Web site reporting on the litigation and providing facts about atrazine. See Syngenta's official response to this specific news release at the end of this report.)



Atrazine's endocrine effects, carcinogenic effects and epidemiological connection to low sperm levels in men has led several researchers to call for banning atrazine in the U.S., said Tillery. Numerous studies on the effects of atrazine have been conducted - including studies at major universities throughout the country. Dr. Tyrone Hayes, developmental endocrinologist at the University of California at Berkeley-Department of Integrative Biology, has identified signs that the effects of atrazine on the sex organs of male frogs are occurring at levels as low as 0.1 parts per billion (ppb). Hayes has found evidence that atrazine is a teratogen, causing demasculinization in male frogs and is an estrogen disruptor. Hayes explains, "In frogs and humans, the hormones are the same, the mechanisms are the same. So, if atrazine seems to be feminizing frogs by increasing the production of estrogen, it might also be having the same effect over the production of estrogen in people."



High levels of estrogen he notes, have been linked to breast cancer.



In the summer of 2001, the National Resource Defense Council learned that Syngenta had been tracking prostate cancer in its employees at its St. Gabriel, La., atrazine plant. The result was a published study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health which reported that exposed Syngenta employees had elevated rates of prostate cancer &mdash a rate more than three-and-a-half times higher than the Louisiana statewide average. An epidemiological study published in May 2004 found that parents working in areas of high herbicide applications are at increased risk for adverse reproductive outcomes such as infertility, poor fertilization, fetal death and congenital anomalies.



In a study conducted by the Department of Agronomy at Kansas State University titled "Atrazine Herbicide - Best Management Practices for the Little Arkansas River Watershed" (MF-2768), it stated: "Atrazine is a low cost per acre herbicide, but there may be environmental costs that should be considered when using it." In the study, there is a chart reflecting average samplings taken from 4 separate locations with atrazine contamination levels far exceeding the EPA standard. Alternatives to atrazine use are also recommended in the 'Best Management Practices' portion of the study.



Tillery said we must protect the long-term viability of our water systems. That includes full accountability and transparency of decisions made by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).



"People assume that their governmental agencies are working to protect them and looking out for their best interests," he said. "We saw what happened with the Securities and Exchange Commission, so we need to examine how the US EPA is making decisions. Contamination testing procedures are flawed, there are closed door meetings being held with herbicide manufacturers without healthcare industry officials invited. These and other practices must be looked into."



Tillery points out that disease from contaminated water doesn't develop overnight. "Contaminants damage cells little by little, it may take years, or even decades for the whole organ to fail or tests to find cancer," he said. "This is why safe water is of such importance. In conjunction with Earth Day, Tillery said he is launching a national awareness campaign dedicated to the cause 'Clean Water for America Now'. Tillery said his message is resonating with stakeholders throughout the country, and that his campaign will not rest until responsible actions are taken to protect our environment and our citizens from the effects of contaminated water systems. "We are entitled as Americans to drink clear, clean water that doesn't make us sick. Not just a little sick, not just maybe sick, it shouldn't make us sick. That's what we should demand," Tillery said.



Syngenta Official Response:

Syngenta believes this suit has no merit and is vigorously defending against it. Atrazine has been used safely by farmers for 50 years. US EPA and Illinois EPA have already set a standard for atrazine in drinking water of 3 ppb - a level which carries a 1000-fold safety factor. The determination as to what constitutes a safe level of atrazine in drinking water is a matter best left to the expertise of the US EPA and the Illinois EPA.



Atrazine not only works better than most other herbicides, but it stands up to the most stringent safety tests and regulatory standards in the world - those of the US EPA. In 2006, after a 12-year review, EPA re-registered atrazine.



EPA categorizes atrazine as "not likely" to cause cancer - the most favorable classification. This conclusion was upheld in the recent Agricultural Health Study of farm workers in Iowa and North Carolina conducted by the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Health, the National Institute of Environmental Health Science and EPA. No links were found between atrazine and breast, prostate or other cancers.



The World Health Organization, along with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, also concluded (September 2007) that atrazine is not likely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans."

Today, atrazine is used in more than 60 countries around the world - in Africa, North and South America, Asia and the Middle East. No country has ever discontinued the use of atrazine based on health effects.



Even though countries in the European Union do not use atrazine, the product received a favorable safety review there:



"It is expected that the use of atrazine, consistent with good plant protection practice, will not have any harmful effects on human or animal health or any unacceptable effects on the environment."



Instead, EU countries use a triazine herbicide similar to atrazine and has nearly the same safety profile, called terbuthylazine.



The European Union's decision not to use atrazine was not science based, but directed by a groundwater limit for all pesticides of 0.1 part per billion (ppb), regardless of toxicity.



In fact, the EU had recommended a health-based drinking water standard for atrazine that was 150 times higher than the 0.1 ppb arbitrary drinking water limit and five times higher than the US federal limit of 3 ppb atrazine.